June, 2014

Our work

Our work
You might be surprised to read that our work is far broader than nature reserves and Big Garden Birdwatch. Read more about what else we do.

Saving Species

The need for species conservation has never been greater. Despite notable successes in improving the fortunes of a number of bird species, more are being forced onto the list of those that need attention, both globally and in the UK. If we want to have a
  • To Bangladesh and the lucky 13!

    Chris Bowden our International Species Recovery Officer & Vulture SAVE Programme Manager is out in the field.

    My vulture work is now taking me from Bangalore to Dhaka in Bangladesh.  I'm going to meet all the key folk who have been working hard on vulture conservation - such as Dr Monirul Khan and Enam Ul Haque, the Forest Department and the IUCN team.

    It's going to be a busy and exciting week as Dipu who co-ordinates the new project from IUCN plus a few others have organized some Government and funder meetings (including UNDP).

    I'm currently nervously waiting for my colleague Annanya Mukherjee, who does vulture work in North India, to join me. Together we are meant to be running two Forest Department training sessions about the setting up of Vulture Safe Zones.  And visits are planned to a vulture safe area and meet up with some officials in the Rema Tea Estate and Wildlife Sanctuary.  However, it's monsoon flooding time and I just saw the weather forecast and it doesn't look good!!! Good luck Annanya!

    Although I may not leave Dhaka myself, this (my second) visit has been very warmly encouraged by those working there, and coincides with the great news that both Forest Department and the Bangladesh National Vulture Recovery Committee have formally agreed to become full Partners of SAVE, and we’re even planning to hold our SAVE meeting there this November. This now brings the number of SAVE Partners to thirteen!


    Monirul Khan addressing an enthusiastic gathering of Bangladesh Bird Club during my first visit in 2012 (photo: Chris Bowden)

    To keep up-to-date with our work saving vultures click here www.save-vultures.org



  • Spoon-billed sandpiper - first hand-reared bird returns to breed

    The first hand-reared spoon-billed sandpiper has returned to breed in Chukotka, Russia, where it was hatched two years ago.

    The hand-rearing scheme (called head-starting) is an attempt to stabilise the species’ population before it becomes extinct. Rearing and releasing birds on the breeding grounds increases the number of young birds in the wild in autumn by about 25%.

    Read the full story on the WWT website.

  • Swifts – returning home

    [From Kirsi Peck, Wildlife Adviser]

    It is early May. A month ago, she was flying over forest and savannah in Africa. She had felt the warm winds blowing from the Indian Ocean, the humidity rising from the rainforest, and the cold and foreboding Atlantic before reaching the searing heat rising from the edges of Sahara. After crossing into Europe at the Straits of Gibraltar, the climate ameliorated, and she flew over pastures, forests, mountains, vineyards and villages before reaching the English Channel and, finally, home. 

    She found her old nesting cavity in the roof of the old house easily, and after so many months of constant flying –eating, drinking and even sleeping on wing – she was finally able to settle down and rest for a while. At the only place where she would ever land, waiting for her mate to return. Some of her relatives were not so lucky, as over winter their homes had been taken away from them by inconsiderate people who had replaced the roof, or simply deliberately blocked off the holes the swifts had used as their front door for generations. These birds had to start house-hunting, hoping to find another cavity in another building soon – otherwise their journey of several thousand miles would be in vain.

    Soon these homeless birds, together with the youngsters setting up home for the first time, would be screaming past her door in search of a nesting cavity, and she would be busy screaming back at them, announcing that her nesting hole was well and truly occupied. People used to call them ‘Devil’s birds’ – packs of little demons hurtling through the air at breakneck speed screaming, only to disappear without a trace at nightfall.

    She was looking forward to three or so months of good weather with plentiful flying insects so that her task of rearing her chicks would be successful. Rainy weather would make food supplies difficult to find, the chicks would grow slowly, and in a bad year they might not even make it out of the nest. By August, she would be embarking on another long journey back to Africa for another winter.

    A long time ago, people didn’t realise that swifts travelled such a long way, they used to think that swifts spent the winter in hibernation cocooned in mud at the bottom of lakes.

    If you’d like to secure the future of our swifts, visit www.rspb.org.uk/helpswifts to see how you can provide a secure home for them. Don’t forget to tell us about swifts breeding in your area as well, by filling in the swift inventory form so we can help developers protect existing sites and provide new homes for swifts at the same time.